Erbbie, pronounced Kirby with an “H”, is a DIY desktop smart garden designed to give everyone a green thumb. Made from an up-cycled mason jar, plastic water bottle, acrylic and an Arudino, Erbbie is a great project for makers of any age and skill set. Designed to be built in less than 5 hours Erbbie introduces makers to CAD, digital fabrication, Arduino coding and basic circuit design. Once assembled Erbbie starts measuring the environment around your plants and will light up yellow if they need more sunlight, and green if everything is going smoothly.
Lets start this project by thinking with our hands! I headed down to the kitchen to grab a mason jar and water bottle, but you could build this project with any other water containers you have around. The goal here was to design a simple container that allows water and nutrients to flow through the plant roots and then collects leftover water and nutrients to be reused.
CAD using Fusion 360
First of all, if you have never used CAD before I HIGHLY recommend you start with Autodesk Fusion 360. Its an amazing tool for beginners that also has some seriously advanced capabilities for when you become a CAD Jedi. For our purposes doing a basic CAD model helps us visualize our final product and start thinking about manufacturing and assembly. Our goal here is to make DXF files that can be sent to a laser cutter. If you like the shape of Erbbie I’ve attached my DXF files, if not design your own!
**Pro Tip** If you choose to design your own, and I recommend you try, the trick to making DXF files from Fusion 360 is to right click on the sketch (as pictured above) and click “Save as DXF”.
Laser Cut Prototype
Using the Epilog laser cutter at Autodesk’s Pier 9 makes super quick work of the 1/8″ cardboard used here for prototyping. Just be cognizant of your laser cutters power, speed and frequency settings, please check your user manual or the companies website for recommended settings. Using improper settings is a fire hazard, please please please be careful!
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.